Photographed in Arlington Park, Sarasota, FL
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Focal Length 100 mm
ISO Speed 400
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash Off, Did not fire
File Size 2027 kB
File Type JPEG
MIME Type image/jpeg
Image Width 3957
Image Height 2717
Family: Bromeliaceae, Genus: Tillandsia
Subgenus: Diaphoranthema, Species: T. usneoides, Binomial name, Tillandsia usneoides
Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, commonly the Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) or Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the southeastern United States.
Spanish moss closely resembles its namesake (Usnea, or beard lichen), but in fact it is not biologically related to either mosses or lichens. Instead, it is an angiosperm in the family Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) that grows hanging from tree branches in full sun or partial shade. Formerly this plant has been placed in the genera Anoplophytum, Caraguata, and Renealmia.2 It ranges from the southeastern United States (southern Virginia and eastern Maryland) to Argentina, growing wherever the climate is warm enough and has a relatively high average humidity.
The plant consists of a slender stem bearing alternate thin, curved or curly, heavily scaled leaves 2–6 cm (0.79–2.4 in) long and 1 mm (0.039 in) broad, that grow vegetatively in chain-like fashion (pendant) to form hanging structures up to 6 m (240 in)3 in length. The plant has no aerial roots 4and its flowers are tiny and inconspicuous. It propagates both by seed and vegetatively by fragments that blow on the wind and stick to tree limbs, or are carried by birds as nesting material.